Rare Keratoma Case Presents Equally Rare Challenges

Farrier-veterinarian navigates through minefield of potential problems to remove and treat the first of two non-cancerous masses

Although an uncommon condition, keratoma formation beneath the horse’s hoof wall or sole can cause lameness, recurrent abscesses and damage to the laminae and coffin bone.

Because of the potential for serious medical consequences, keratoma diagnosis, removal and treatment requires either the close collaboration between farrier and veterinarian or the involvement of a veterinarian skilled in farriery.

The Condition

The name keratoma implies a keratin-derived tumor, but while the involved tissues are generally mostly keratin, the cells themselves are hyperplastic rather than neoplastic — meaning they have multiplied but aren’t truly cancerous. Keratomas grow slowly over time, but do not spread to other parts of the body.

The keratoma is a spherical or cylindrical mass of keratin that grows between the hoof wall and sensitive laminae or beneath the sole. Lameness develops slowly and sometimes intermittently as the mass begins to press against sensitive structures.

While most keratoma formations are thought to be associated with injury or irritation to the hoof capsule or coronary band, such as a laceration, penetrating hoof injury or abscess, the exact cause is unknown in most cases.

Keratomas can affect horses of any breed, age or gender and generally develop over a long period of time. Typically, only one foot is affected and horses with more than one keratoma, such as the case below, are rare.

Treatment involves the complete surgical removal of the mass, hoof support, off-limb support and prevention of infection.

Keratoma Started In Yearling

Raul Bras, an equine veterinarian in the podiatry…

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Christy Corp-Minamiji DMV

Christy Corp-Minamiji is a freelance writer and former large animal veterinary practitioner. She lives in Northern California.

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